UK Football

Kentucky football vs. Florida: How they match up and a game prediction

Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith was sacked in the first quarter of Kentucky's home game Saturday against Florida.
Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith was sacked in the first quarter of Kentucky's home game Saturday against Florida. Herald-Leader

How Florida and Kentucky match up for Saturday's game in Commonwealth Stadium:

QUARTERBACKS

After completing only 16 of 34 passes against Louisiana-Lafayette, Patrick Towles overcame an early interception at South Carolina and hit on 21 of 29 in Kentucky's win at South Carolina. In UK's triple-overtime loss at Florida last year, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Towles threw for 369 yards and three TDs. Florida announced Thursday that redshirt freshman Will Grier (started vs. East Carolina) will get his second straight start ahead of sophomore Treon Harris (started vs. New Mexico State). Both have been efficient — Grier has completed 74.3 of his passes (26 of 35), while Harris has hit on 70.4 (19 of 27).

Advantage: Kentucky

RUNNING BACKS

Kentucky's Boom Williams is fourth in the SEC in rushing (121 yards a game) and now has three straight 100-plus-yards rushing games. Deland, Fla., product Jojo Kemp (13 carries, 78 yards at South Carolina) should be well motivated against his home-state school. Florida junior Kelvin Taylor (109 rushing yards this season) scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown against East Carolina — then drew the ire of his head coach by making the throat-slashing gesture. Taylor is listed third-string on this week's Florida depth chart behind freshmen Jordan Cronkrite and Jordan Scarlett.

Advantage: Kentucky

WIDE RECEIVERS

Sophomore Garrett Johnson leads Kentucky with nine receptions. A year ago, the Winter Garden, Fla., native caught six passes for 154 yards and two TDs at Florida. In 2014, Florida's Demarcus Robinson lit UK up with 15 catches for 216 yards and two TDs. So far this year, the 6-1, 204-pound junior has six catches for 34 yards and is listed behind Ahmad Fullwood on the UF depth chart.

Advantage: Kentucky

TIGHT ENDS

Kentucky freshmen C.J. Conrad and Darryl Long are each still looking for their first career receptions. Florida tight ends lead the SEC in touchdown catches with three. DeAndre Goolsby has six catches for 132 yards and a score; C'yontai Lewis has three catches, two for touchdowns.

Advantage: Florida

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Kentucky right guard Ramsey Meyers, a product of Orange Park, Fla., has quietly developed into a solid player. The 6-4, 320-pound sophomore made a nice block at the second level on Mikel Horton's 8-yard TD run at South Carolina. Florida had four offensive line starters from last season drafted by the NFL. Gators line coach Mike Summers, the former UK assistant, returned the fewest career offensive line starts (10) of any team in the SEC. Left guard Trip Thurman is Florida's sole returning starter.

Advantage: Kentucky

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Kentucky defensive end Farrington Huguenin, a 6-4, 282-pound senior, had five tackles last week playing in his hometown, Columbia, S.C. Florida nose guard Joey Ivie had himself a game against East Carolina with three QB sacks plus a hurry. Florida's defense is allowing only 25.5 yards a game on the ground through two games.

Advantage: Florida

LINEBACKERS

Kentucky senior WLB Khalid Henderson had a team-high 11 tackles in the victory at South Carolina. MLB Josh Forrest is tied for fifth in the SEC in tackles (11 a game) and tied for first in passes defended (2.5 a game). Florida WLB Jarrad Davis leads the Gators with 12 tackles. Gators Coach Jim McElwain said SLB Alex Anzalone is "very doubtful to out" for UK with a shoulder injury.

Advantage: Florida

SECONDARY

Kentucky's Chris Westry is the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week after the 6-4, 185-pound freshman corner from Orange Park, Fla., had a sack, a quarterback hurry, a pass break-up and the game-sealing interception at South Carolina. If healthy, Florida may have the best pair of corners in the SEC. Junior Vernon Hargreaves III was a first team All-American a season ago, but missed last week's game with East Carolina due to a "leg injury." Sophomore Jalen Tabor returned an interception 39 yards for a TD vs. ECU and broke up two other passes.

Advantage: Florida

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kentucky punter Landon Foster averaged only 36.4 yards on five kicks last week with only one punt pinned inside the 20. UK true freshman Sihiem King is 10th in the SEC in kickoff returns (20 yards a return). Florida punter Johnny Townsend is fifth in the SEC (42.7 yards a punt). Place-kicker Austin Hardin is 3-for-5 on field goals with a long of 37. Brandon Powell is a dangerous kickoff returner (average of 25.5 yards).

Advantage: Florida

PREDICTION

Kentucky 30, Florida 28

  Comments